Assessment of The Green Party of Ontario Platform on Home and Community Care Services
May 16, 2022
“We need to bring support and care into our communities where the majority of people prefer to age in place – enjoying daily life within our homes.”
The Green Party of Ontario’s platform – The Green Plan. New solutions to old problems – treats care and services for older adults as part of a broader system.
The platform calls for “an expanded choice, patient-centred long-term care framework that focuses on a continuum of care for seniors.” The Greens discuss integrating long-term care, home care, and caregiver services to provide for “unique and complex needs.” Initiatives throughout the platform illustrate and reinforce this recommendation.
Investment in Home and Community Care Services
“We offer solutions to make it easier for our elders to age in place, with dignity and real support.”
The platform recognizes the need to improve home care by:
- Increasing funding to home care services by 20% and investing $1.6B to help people age in place
- Creating a standard basket of core home care services to be consistently available across the province
- Increasing high quality home care options for people with frailty, dementia, and disability
- Providing team coordinators as a single access point within family health teams
It also goes beyond home and community services to address conditions that will help older Ontarians remain in their homes and contribute to society by:
- Expanding options to age in place by, for example, promoting and removing barriers to co-housing and co-living developments
- Creating incentives for retrofitting homes to make them safer
- Mandating universal design so that all new housing is accessible and suitable for ageing in place
- Supporting community centres and neighbourhood coalitions
- Adding more mobile polls so that older adults have more accessible opportunities to vote
- Making broadband internet an essential service and rolling out high-speed access across the province
“Decent wages, paid sick days and safe workplaces must be the standard, especially as life is getting less and less affordable for people in Ontario.”
Some of the Green Party’s plans are directed to improving conditions for all workers and for Ontarians as a whole:
- Increasing the floor of the minimum wage each year by $1, starting at $16 in 2022, with a top-up in cities with higher costs of living
- Increasing the number of provincially-legislated paid sick days from three to ten and giving small businesses financial support to fund the increase
- Giving all workers full and equal access to employment rights and benefits programs, as well as equal pay for equal work, regardless of whether they are permanent, part-time, temporary, or casual
- Working with the federal government for continued funding for universal access to high-quality, $10-a-day childcare in all communities
- Phasing in a basic income
- Prohibiting “payday” lending and working with credit unions to develop a low-cost, small loan alternative to help people get out of debt
- Immediately cutting transit fares in half for at least three months across all Ontario transit systems
“We can’t afford to wait to treat workers with the respect they deserve, including paid sick days and fair wages.”
The platform says, “If we are going to call nurses, PSWs and educators heroes, then let’s pay them that way.” It talks about respecting and retaining health care workers instead of “burning them out.” Specifically, it calls for investing in health care workers, both paid and unpaid, by:
- Immediately repealing Bill 124 and the problematic sections of Bill 106 and allowing all health care workers to bargain collectively for fair wages. Until then, providing a minimum hourly wage of $25 to personal support workers
- Mandating that personal support workers be paid a minimum of $25 an hour and paid for their travel time between visits
- Piloting a support program as part of a basic income phase-in for unpaid caregivers in families and communities
Plans to address the shortage of personal support workers include:
- Supporting certification upgrades for health care workers through expanded bridging programs at publicly funded post-secondary institutions
- Fast-tracking credential approvals for 15,000 international health care workers, including personal support workers
Accountability, Standards, Oversight, and Planning
“Collect meaningful quality indicators to hold homecare organisations accountable and to promote quality improvements.”
Some of the planning initiatives concentrate on preparing for future pandemics by:
- Conducting an independent public inquiry into the Government of Ontario’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Setting aside adequate funding for pandemic preparedness
- Stockpiling a three-month supply of personal protective equipment for all health care facilities
- Designating the Chief Medical Officer of Health as an independent officer of the legislature, with annual reporting to the public
- Supporting Public Health Ontario with robust public health science and laboratories
The Greens call for “an accountable, non-profit long-term care system.” Some accountability and oversight initiatives address long-term care homes. Examples include repealing Bill 218, which shields long-term care owners and operators from liability for negligence, and reinstating annual unannounced inspections with consequences for infractions.
We interpret this view of the “long-term care system,” however, as including accountability in home and community services. Indeed, the Greens call for standardizing a basket of available home care services throughout Ontario and for collecting “ … meaningful quality indicators to hold homecare organisations accountable and to promote quality improvements.” Their plan also includes mandating and funding the “collection and meaningful use of socio-demographic and race-based data to identify and correct inequities …”
“Our vision puts the dignity of people ahead of private profits or government red tape.”
The Green Party decries the profit motive as a factor in providing services. The Greens “support a publicly funded, publicly delivered healthcare system and oppose further privatisation of care” and talk about their “leadership approach that plans for the future by putting people and the planet above profit.”
“… now is the time to expand a publicly funded, publicly delivered healthcare system that is equitable, accessible, and comprehensive – for all Ontarians.”
Their plan to create an accountable, non-profit long-term care system includes phasing out for-profit long-term care and no longer licensing new for-profit homes. This emphasis extends to home and community services, with a “shift to entirely nonprofit homecare providers within the public system.”
“Our plan emphasises the connections we all share. It values the quality of life of all Ontarians.”
The Green Party platform reflects a holistic approach to government. It names six overall priorities.
- Homes not highways
- Mental health is health
- New Climate Economy
- Respect for People
- Reinvest in health and education
- Protect nature
The platform reinforces connections between and among these priorities. It also takes a holistic approach to health, one that recognizes social and environmental factors.
The Green Party includes home and community services in much of its platform and has managed to use language about older Ontarians that is respectful rather than patronizing. Instead of infantilizing older adults, it promotes a view of them as simply one segment of a caring society.
We are pleased that a number of the workforce initiatives specifically include personal support workers along with other health care professionals. Also, the plan for a minimum hourly wage of $25 appears to apply to all personal support workers regardless of the settings in which they work. In addition, giving employment rights and benefits to all workers would go a long way to keeping personal support workers in homes and communities.
We are also pleased to see the emphasis on data – the foundation for accountability and improvement. As we might expect with a platform that is a plan without a budget, many of the Green Party’s initiatives could be considered a wish list but still lacking in important details. In line with the party’s central issues, the Greens provide more details in their plans for mental health and the climate economy. We would look forward to more specifics.
“… a willingness to work across the aisle to get things done and a focus on people over party.”
The Green Party platform emphasizes the importance of caring and cooperation in society. We hope that, as it tells us, it will use this spirit and its influence to “get things done” and promote home and community services, linking it with other initiatives whenever possible.